One of the important parameters in the determination of optimal transportation system is economy. Therefore, a realistic method based on the technical, economical and operational parameters of various transportation modes, namely, road, railway, and sea routes is required in the analysis of costs. This method will take into consideration the probable price escalations during the lifetime of a certain transportation system. The cost of a unit of cargo or passenger per route length should be considered since it is an indicator of economics. In this paper, an approach for transportation cost analysis based on the economic analysis of the alternative modes of cargo or passenger transportation, is presented. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.